A La Poupee (Pierre-Joseph Redoute)
Redoute worked for years to perfect his technique of producing colour-printed stipple engravings a La Poupee. This process involved applying colours to the stippled copper plate with a rag stump, or poupee. This development in printing on paper provided the means of conveying, in a repeatable form, with the luminosity and depth which he acheived in his paintings on vellum. The technique was both difficult and expensive - indeed it has been described as "probably the most complex reproduction method possible". When the colour- printing process had been accomplished the plates still needed to be coloured by hand.
Redoute had a team of 18 engravers producing illustrations for Les Liliacees, regarded his highest achievement in this field. Producing illustrations by this means required generous patronage. That came in the form of the future Empresss Josephine, Napoleon's wife, in 1798. She appointed him as her official artist to make pictorial records of her plants in the extensive gardens of Chateau Malmaison. This patronage and friendship came with an ample salary of 30,000 Francs per year enabling Redoute to publish some of his greatest works from a scientific point of view.
Robson, Eve and Norman Plants, Studio Edtions, London 1990